Crabgrass…in Early Spring?!

Every spring, our Weed Man franchises throughout the US field a fair amount of calls regarding possible Crabgrass infestations in home lawns.

To most homeowners, the thick-bladed grass that they’re noticing in their lawn must be Crabgrass. But since Crabgrass is an annual weed, what they are actually seeing (especially this early on in spring) is not, in fact, Crabgrass. However, in very rare cases, if there was no cold weather in the very southern states, the existing Crabgrass may not have died off.

In most cases, homeowners are misidentifying a weedy grass, such as Tall Fescue or Quackgrass. Both grasses are thick-bladed and look a lot like Crabgrass, so it’s not surprising that they presume that’s what they are seeing grow in their lawn.

Above: Crabgrass in August;                     Above: Quackgrass in April

 

Because Crabgrass is an annual, there are things that we can apply in the spring, such as pre-emergent weed control, that will help prevent it from germinating. There are also products that will help control it after it has germinated, although this method is a bit tougher to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not the case for those weedy grasses like Tall Fescue and Quackgrass. Because these grasses are biologically similar to desired grasses, there really is no way to get rid of them other than digging them out or using a non-selective herbicide and re-sodding the area.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the germination of Crabgrass can vary, often starting in a sunny location, a full month ahead of other parts of the lawn that may be more shaded. A good way to know when Crabgrass is about to germinate is to use an indicator plant, such as the Forsythia Bush.  Keep an eye out for when the Forsythia Bush starts to flower, as this is a good indication that Crabgrass could be starting to germinate. However, in my opinion, the best way to tell is once you see the farmers in the fields planting their corn crops. This means the soil temperatures are just right and you can bet that the Crabgrass is going to be germinating as well.

If you have any questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

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A Cool Spring: A Cause for Concern

This spring season has certainly been more winter than spring. I’ve even heard it described as it being January 74th today. One thing is for sure though…all of this cold weather is a cause for concern for our poor home lawns.

First and foremost, those states where southern turfgrasses are grown are the ones that concern me the most, as damage is likely to happen later this spring or summer. Thanks to the warmer weather those states experienced in February,  the turf came out of dormancy and started to green up and could have even been mowed a few times. But since then, with the colder weather making its return, lawns have entered back into dormancy or at the least, a semi-dormant state.

Morning park grass covered with water drops

When this occurs, the sugars and carbohydrates don’t totally convert into the more cold-tolerant starches, like what typically happens in the fall just before the winter dormancy period. This can be quite stressful for southern grasses, such as Bermudagrass and St. Augustine, and can lead to damage later on, or at minimum, a thinning of the turf.

Centipedegrass may also experience issues this spring, and just like St. Augustine grass, it may take a lot of time to recover since neither of them have below-ground rhizomes. They both grow above the ground through stolons, or runners. This makes recovery and regrowth of these species more difficult.

Other issues, such as cold and drier-than-normal air, increase the risk of damage, specifically in southern turfgrasses, drying the crowns of the plant out completely. Also, possible damage may occur from standing water. In certain cases, there was rain right before the cold weather hit and all that stagnant water froze in and around the crown of the plants, causing damage or weakening the plant.

When it comes to the more northern states, on the other hand, there is some concern for damage with the Tall Fescue and Bluegrass species; but typically, the damage isn’t near as bad as it is with southern turf. If the temperatures warm up enough to allow the water to thaw between the plant’s cells, then the cells will re-hydrate and if it gets cold again, and a hard frost occurs, Freeze Damage can occur.

Freeze Damage looks a lot like random white streaks or bleached out areas. These discolored areas happen when young, tender new growth freezes after a cold snap. This will usually last for only a short period of time before it recovers and grows out.

So, what can you do to help the grass in the meantime?  Be aware that excess foot and vehicle traffic may worsen the effects of cold damage, so stay off damaged turf until the soil and plants have completely thawed. The healthier the turf, the more stress it can handle, so last year’s applications will help.

If you have any questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Summer Drought & Your Lawn

The summer drought conditions this year have been pretty severe in a number of areas and we’re only into the early part of July. With it being so dry in May and June, it can’t help but have an effect on your lawn now and into the fall.

In March I wrote a blog that started with “If the weather predictions come to fruition this year due to the strong El Niño, it looks like we will have a drier and warmer-than-normal summer in 2016.” So far, that is exactly what is happening in a lot of areas in the U.S. The past few years (at least in the eastern parts of the U.S.) we have been pretty lucky in that we had fairly regular rainfall and cooler summers. So it may come as no surprise that we were due for some drier, warmer weather with some severe drought. So what can you do to help the lawn through this hotter and drier weather?

As I mentioned in my March blog, one of the things you could have done to prepare for the hot and dry summer was getting your lawn as healthy as possible in the spring prior to having to experience the summer heat and drought. “You definitely don’t want to skip any fertilizer applications this spring or early this summer as the lawn will need it. Fertilizer is going to be very important in setting up the lawn to withstand the stress of a hot summer by giving it the key nutrients it needs to help it stay healthy when its under stress.”

That being said if you are watering your lawn through the summer and keeping it green, the lawn will still need to be fertilized as it will utilize those nutrients to maintain its healthy state. If you decide not to water it and therefore let it turn brown, the amount of nutrients it requires will be a lot less and fertilizing it may be unnecessary. However, if you use a slow-release fertilizer, not to worry, those nutrients should stay there for the plant to utilize when you do get rain, which will encourage the grass to grow again.

Watering will have a big impact on a lawn’s appearance and proper watering is a must if you are going to keep the turf healthy until more regular rainfall occurs. Almost all grasses can withstand a certain amount of drought. For example, bluegrass can withstand drought for up to 6 weeks before injury. As you see in the picture below, this lawn had not been watered for quite a while and the lawn did not recover. The end result? Most of it had to be re-sodded that fall.

Remember that there are a lot of ways not to water your lawn and it isummer-drought-stresss the most misunderstood practice for homeowners. The biggest mistake occurs when homeowners irrigate their lawn every day for 20 minutes (simply because that is the way most irrigation systems are set up), without realizing that this type of light watering can lead to shallow rooting and disease. Shallow rooting creates a weaker plant that is prone to environmental stresses, which can result in an increase in lawn diseases. Also, not allowing the lawn to dry out for a period of time can also increase the chance of disease. This ultimately leads to discoloration of the lawn and poor visual quality. Watering at night is often the biggest reason for the presence of disease on the lawn.

When it comes to watering your lawn and helping it look its best, water only when the lawn needs it and be sure to water deeply. Watering deeply in the morning when the lawn requires it will give your turf the opportunity to dry out and prevent lawn diseases in the process.

Mowing can also influence the health of the turf, so when it’s hot and dry out, it’s a great idea to mow your lawn as high as you can. The longer the turf is maintained, mowing-heightthe healthier it will be, as it will have a much deeper rooting system. This deeper root system will better utilize underground water supply and find its own water and remain healthier overall.

Click HERE to view the NOAA National Precipitation Map for June by %, to see how your area is doing for Rainfall.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

It’s Grub Season!

Do you suspect grubs on your turf? White grubs eat away at grass roots and can devastate an entire lawn…fast! If you’ve been noticing beetles on your property or have a weak, discolored lawn that can be rolled back like a carpet due to its poor health and weakened roots, you could have a serious grub infestation.

At Weed Man, we recommend a preventative approach when it comes to grubs. Although they may not always be visible, seeming like an insignificant problem, you’re wrong. Grub larvae will cause detrimental damage to your turf, if left untreated.

Grubs live underground. They feed on your turf’s roots, which ultimately makes your lawn spongy and yellow in color. Grubs are seen as a tasty treat to wildlife, so if you have noticed animals digging in your lawn, it could also be a sure fire sign you have an issue on your hands.

If you do have a grub problem, they will have done significant damage to the roots of your lawn by next month. Prevention is the way to go, especially in regions of the country – such as the Midwest or the Northeast – where grubs tend to be a regular problem for about 30 to 60 percent of lawns.

Preventatively treating potentially devastating white grub infestations can help protect your investment and your property. Weed Man offers a highly effective preventative product that lasts 60-75 days in the soil.

To learn more about Weed Man’s grub preventative or to schedule a complimentary lawn analysis, call your local Weed Man today. Don’t forget to visit us online at www.weedmanusa.com and like us on Facebook for regular lawn care tips and advice.

Annual Bluegrass can be a major eye sore on your lawn.

“What is that awful looking wheat grass on my lawn?” is a question I get a lot when dealing with customers who have concerns over Annual Bluegrass.

On most home lawns there is a very common occurrence that takes place in the later part of the spring and earlier part of the summer, which is the Annual Bluegrass going to seed. This yearly occurrence can create some unsightly looking lawns not just because of all of the seed heads that shoot up but also because after the plant seeds set, the grass will turn yellow, discoloring the turf.

Annual BluegrassIn a perfect world, Kentucky Bluegrass would make up the majority of the grass on a lawn,
as it has a deep blue color and is relatively drought-tolerant. Annual Bluegrass on the other hand, is really a weedy grass that is a winter annual or weak perennial and often dies during summer heat and drought, resulting in a lack-luster lawn. Almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass in it, some may be taken over by it, and others will show signs of it but just in scattered areas or in unsightly patches.

The big question I get from homeowners after identifying the Annual Bluegrass and Annual Bluegrass - Closeupdetermining we can’t control it with our broadleaf weed control, is “how did I get this and how can I get rid of it?” Believe it or not, the lawns that have the biggest problem with Annual Bluegrass are typically belong to homeowners that are over-managing their yards.

One of the biggest contributors to Annual Bluegrass in the home lawn is mowing height. A lot of homeowners will want that golf course look to their lawn and they will end up cutting it way too short. Annual Bluegrass is very adaptive and can survive very low mowing heights. This is a huge issue for golf course superintendents, because it can even survive in low-mowed golf greens, creating an uneven putting surface (especially when it goes to seed).

In the home lawn however, when you cut the grass at a height of 2 inches or less, you will discourage the Kentucky Bluegrass that was sodded or seeded when the house was built. I always recommend cutting at a height of 3.5 inches, especially in the summer months, even considering it can tolerate a lower mowing height of 2.5 inches. However keeping it cut higher will keep it healthier, with deeper roots and thus discourage the Annual Bluegrass from germinating, as well as out-competing it.

Another possible factor of the growth of Annual Bluegrass is overwatering. I see a lot of homeowners that have irrigation systems programmed to go on every day for 20 minutes. Again, watering is important for your Kentucky Bluegrass, but it prefers deep watering around 1 inch to 1.5 inches per week. This may mean once or twice a week depending on the time of year and how much rainfall has occurred. Remember, early morning watering is best to discourage any disease as it allows the lawn to dry during the day.

The reality is, almost every lawn will have some Annual Bluegrass but what you do culturally will have a real effect on how much you’ll have to deal with. If you’re at that point where your lawn has the problem, then the best thing you can do is to bag your grass clippings. This will help prevent the seeds from going back into the soil. Although this may only have a small impact, as there are likely thousands of Annual Bluegrass seeds sitting dormant waiting for the right opportunity to germinate. Lastly, once the seeds are set, the turf will look a bit yellow. Saying this, keeping the turf as healthy as possible will help minimize the yellowing that will occur for a few weeks afterwards.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Early-Blooming Dandelions

Something that I expected, and we are already experiencing, is Dandelions blooming extremely early this season. This can be explained pretty easily, but what can be done about them is a bit more complex.

To fully understand why we are witnessing so many dandelions blooming so early this spring, it’s as simple as looking back at last fall’s weather conditions. In many places, last fall we experienced fairly warm weather compared to the last few we’ve had. On Christmas day, I was actually able to get pictures of some dandelions blooming, which was the first dandelionstime I’d ever seen this. I jokingly mentioned to my wife that we might actually receive some calls from customers wanting us to treat their lawns. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t complaining about the nice weather (it did extend the golf season), but I knew seeing all of those weeds so late in the year would spell some headaches this spring.

Due to the warm fall weather last year, those pesky dandelions were able to germinate late in October and early November and grew pretty big, even blooming in late December as I mentioned above. Typically in the fall, dandelions will germinate and start growing prior to the winter season and will then enter a state of dormancy once the temperatures drop. Typically they are small in the spring and some will germinate once the soil warms up. They are usually the first weed that you notice on the lawn due to their yellow flower.

A lot of people, once they see dandelions flowering, want to get out there and treat them immediately. However, treating them when the nights are still cool and the soil temperatures are as well can mean slower results. I have seen early applications take more than a month for the weeds to die. Also, treating dandelions too early on can lead to having to treat the lawn a number of times rather than just once. Keep in mind, herbicides used to control broadleaved weeds do not prevent them from germinating, they only get rid of the weeds that are up and growing. So if you’re too early, you will miss a lot of those late-germinating plants such as plantain or knotweed (to name just a few), therefore resulting in having to re-treat your turf each time a new set of weeds germinates throughout the season. Those who wait to treat their lawn will experience better results, with less amount of time and product required, saving you some cost.

What if the dandelion flowers and turns to seed? Not to worry! It will anyways once the herbicide is applied; and regardless, if it does or doesn’t, there are thousands of seeds lying dormant in the soil already, so adding more really won’t make much of a difference. The best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn that will help prevent those seeds from germinating. A lush and nutrient-filled turf will also keep them from getting the sunlight they require in order to germinate.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

National Lawn Care Month

 

lawn care month

The green industry has recognized April as National Lawn Care Month. This is a great way to get people excited about working in the great outdoors, specifically on their lawns and landscapes. Here are some interesting facts about your lawn you maybe had no idea about!

Did you know that there are over 9000 different species of grass? Grass specifically, is a term for the plant family Gramineae. Some grasses are even edible. For example, Wheatgrass, which contains most of the vitamins and minerals needed for human health. Lawns have been around for centuries and they most likely evolved from rich European Aristocrats who would clear the trees around their castles in order to allow for better sight lines in case of attacks. Once the trees were cleared the grass would naturally grow in and they would use sheep and other grazing animals that would help keep the grass in a low cut state. The word lawn actually comes from the Middle English word launde, which meant a “glade or opening in the woods”.

Only a few grass species are acceptable for the home lawn and depending on where you live this will typically dictate the type of turfgrass you will have on your lawn. The reason turfgrass makes such a great lawn is the fact that grass leaves begin to grow from the stem apex, located at the base of the plant, which is called the crown. This is the main reason why grasses can be mowed without sustaining serious injury as growth continues from the base of the leaf after a portion of the leaf blade is mowed off.

Speaking of mowing, the first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1830 in England. Budding’s mower was designed primarily to cut the grass on sports grounds and extensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was granted a British patent on August 31, 1830.

Did you know? Grass is the earth’s living skin. It essentially protects what’s underneath it by acting as a filter. Pretty neat! A single grass plant can have more than 300 miles worth of roots and a typical lawn has about six grass plants per square inch, which means the average lawn could house millions of grass plants!

Grass is incredible for so many other reasons though! It converts Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen. In fact, an acre area of grass is better at producing oxygen than an acre of rainforest. Grass also reduces temperatures, erosion, acts as a carbon sink and traps dust and dirt (just to mention a few of the great things it does).

This April, let’s get out there and get working on our lawns and landscapes, plant a garden or rake your lawn. After all, there is plenty of research that proves that homeowners find stress relief and healing when interacting with nature. Not to mention, staying active – period – will help you live longer.

At Weed Man, we celebrate #LawnCareMonth. Join us!

For more information about National Lawn Care Month, visit the National Association of Landscape Professionals!

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

 

Looking Ahead to This Year’s Lawn Care

As we all know, the weather plays a huge part in how your lawn will look from year to year. The past couple of years we have been pretty lucky, except those on the west coast, with fairly regular rainfall and cooler summers.

If the weather predictions come to fruition this year, due to the strong El Niño, it looks like we will have a drier and warmer-than-normal summer in 2016. Here are some simple tips that will help you keep the best looking lawn on your street this year, despite the drier weather conditions.

One of the first things that you can do to help with the look of your lawn is to help it thrive, returning it to a healthy state. You definitely don’t want to skip any fertilizer applications this spring or early this summer for that matter, as your turf will need it. Fertilizer is going to be very important in setting up the lawn to withstand the stress of a hot summer by giving it the key nutrients it needs to stay healthy when its experiencing stress.

Weed Man’s exclusive blend fertilizer is a granular 65% slow release fertilizer that helps feed the lawn for periods of 8-10 weeks. It feeds the roots of the turf and allows the plant to slowly absorb of all the beneficial nutrients, over that 8 to 10-week period, therefore maximizing the return on investment.

Watering can also have a big impact on a lawn’s appearance, especially if you are expecting a very hot and dry summer. Proper watering is a must if you are going to keep the turf healthy until more regular rainfall occurs. Almost all grasses can withstand a certain amount of drought. For example, Bluegrass can withstand drought for up to 6 weeks before injury. As you see in the picture below, this lawn had not been watered for quite a while and it didn’t recover well, resulting in most of the lawn having to be re-sodded that fall.

Poor Watering

Watering is one of the most misunderstood practices when it comes to caring for your turf. The biggest mistake homeowners can make is irrigating too much – every day for 20 minutes (which is quite common). This is not suggested, although most irrigation systems are set up that way; however, this type of light watering can lead to shallow rooting and disease development. Shallow rooting creates a weaker plant that is more prone to environmental stresses, which can result in an increase in lawn diseases. Also, it is important to allow your lawn to dry out from time to time. Keeping it constantly saturated with water can increase the chance of disease, ultimately leading to discoloration and poor visual quality.

When it comes to watering your lawn and helping it look its best, water only when the lawn needs it and be sure to water deeply. Watering deeply in the morning, when your lawn requires it most, will give your turf the opportunity to dry out and therefore prevent lawn diseases in the process.

MowingMowing can promote a healthy turf, so when it’s hot and dry out this summer, it’s a great idea to mow your lawn as high as you can. The longer the turf is maintained, the healthier it will be, as it will have a much deeper rooting system. This deeper root system will be able to better utilize underground water supply and find its own water, as well as help is remain healthy and thriving.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

New Year, New Lawn Care Routine

Healthy grass is an amazing gift that many of us take for granted. There’s nothing quite like spending time with your family, friends, and pets on a soft, lush lawn. In fact, home lawns provide a convenient avenue for enjoying nature’s gifts without ever having to leave your property.

While you are encouraged to take advantage of your lawn’s many benefits, it is also important that you remember to give back to your grass so that it remains healthy and vibrant. With a new season of lawn care on the horizon, now is the time to start thinking about ways to upgrade your lawn care routine. Starting early with a little education and planning has been the key to success for so many of our customers – and we want to share a few tips of the trade with you.

The health of your lawn – and your ability to enjoy it – depends on good cultural practices.  Consider giving your yard the gift of a professional lawn care treatment this spring, or, at the very least, modifying your current mowing and watering practices to enhance your turf.  Weed Man can help you create a lawn care and maintenance plan that will help give you the lawn you’ve always envisioned.

1. Aeration

Your lawn can’t be at its greenest and healthiest without healthy soil. Soil is the foundation of all plant health and plays an important role in how nutrients become available to the turf.  On many lawns – especially in cases where there is heavy foot traffic – soil often becomes hard and compacted, severely limiting the recommended 12 inches of soil. As a result, your grass may suffer from a nutrient deficiency and become thin and weed infested in a very short period of time.

Aeration can help. Unfortunately, many homeowners skip their recommended annual aeration, thinking that it is an inessential “add-on” service. This is not the case! Aeration is a critical cultural practice that helps alleviate soil compaction by pulling cores of soil out of the turf, improving air, water, and nutrient penetration into the lawn. As an added benefit, core aeration optimizes root development and reduces thatch, allowing for better drainage and greater resistance to disease. If you’re wondering how you can take your lawn care routine to the next level in 2015, consider speaking to your local Weed Man about aeration. You’ll be happy you did!

2. Overseeding

Your lawn may also benefit from an overseeding treatment. Overseeding refers to the process of planting grass seed on pre-existing turf. It may be recommended for lawns that have large, bare areas, particularly when insect and/or drought damage are at play. Far too often we see homeowners hoping for re-growth in bare areas that badly need care and advanced nutrition. Don’t wait for those grass-less areas of your lawn to fix themselves – take action and give your lawn the boost it needs.

3. Mowing

Some homeowners mistakenly believe that mowing merely provides aesthetic benefits, when, in fact, it is an important cultural practice that greatly impacts the health of a lawn. Do not take more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off in one cutting. The longer the leaf, the deeper the rooting system and the more easily your grass can absorb nutrients and water. Additionally, be sure to mow with a sharp blade. This will allow the cut tip of the leaf blade to heal quickly, preventing disease pathogens from entering the grass. As you think ahead to the coming months and your lawn care routine, consider having your mower blade sharpened by a professional. It may also be a good idea to examine the height of your mower deck to ensure you are cutting your lawn at the appropriate height for your turfgrass species (click HERE for a mowing height guide). Taking early steps now will help you start lawn care season on the right foot.

4. Watering

Watering is another essential cultural practice that affects lawn health. Like mowing, watering contributes to the development of deep roots when performed properly. Lawns require about 1 inch of water per week to remain healthy, and this should be delivered in one deep, heavy watering as opposed to several light sprinklings. Now is a great time to shop around for a high-quality sprinkler (if you do not have an underground irrigation system). Look for a model that promises even distribution of water and that will not rust quickly. Remember: read online reviews of various products and take your time. The right sprinkler will aid in lawn health and help you save water along the way.

If you give your lawn the care that it needs, it will surely reciprocate. Think ahead to the coming spring months and visualize the various ways you can give back to the yard that gives you so much enjoyment throughout the warmer seasons.

Keep those lawns healthy.

-Chris

Chris Lemcke Weed Man Blog

Lawn Care New Year

Spring lawn care

Happy 2014! With the new year upon us and spring right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your lawn. Even if your yard is currently covered in a foot of snow, it is important to remember that the action you take over the next several weeks will help give you a healthy lawn when it really counts.

Weed Man recommends taking the following pre-emptive measures to prepare your lawn for the upcoming warmer seasons:

1. Book your lawn care program early. Many homeowners book their lawn care programs well into the spring season. I recommend signing up during the winter months. This will allow your local Weed Man to treat your lawn at the best possible time, and, in turn, provide you with optimum results. With our handy online Customer Portal, you can add services to your account at any time of the day or night.  

2. Repair and prepare lawn care tools. While it may seem like overkill to tune up your edger or get your mower’s blades sharpened in January or February, this is actually a very smart move. Repair shops get slammed as soon as the spring season arrives, often resulting in long waiting times. You’ll save yourself time and money by acting now.

3. Inspect your lawn. As soon as the snow starts to melt, give your lawn a close inspection. Many homeowners do not put their lawns “to bed” properly in the fall, which can lead to early spring turf diseases such as snow mold. Heavy ice and wet leaf coverage are usually to blame, but you can help by clearing your turf’s surface of any unwanted debris. Again, taking early action will only benefit you in the long run.

Don’t let the bitter cold steer you into winter hibernation mode. Stay on point by preparing for lawn care season early – your turf will thank you.  

Until next time,

Chris